Turkesterone: What Is It and What Are Its Benefits for Gaining Muscle Mass

November 18, 2022

Surely you have heard of turkesterone if you have ever resorted to sports supplements to optimize your physical performance or have considered doing so. It has been all the rage in recent years and, as is often the case with this type of product, all kinds of benefits have been attributed to it.


What exactly is it, what is it for, and does it really work to gain muscle mass? It is time to put turkesterone under the magnifying glass.


What is Turkesterone?


Turkesterone is a natural ecdysteroid extracted from Ajuga turkestanicaEcdysteroids are molting and sex hormones found in insects, where they serve multiple functions.


It is also a phytoecdiestereoid, so it appears in plants with a protective function against herbivorous insects. Some examples are Cyanotis vaga, Ajuga turkestanica (from which it takes its name), and Rhaponticum carthamoides.


What is it used for?


Studies on turkesterone are still needed, but the current hypothesis is that, in humans, it can bind to the gene encoding the estrogen receptor protein β (Erβ).


For this reason, it has gained weight as a compound in dietary supplements in recent years, especially in bodybuilding. But is it effective? We will try to answer the question below.


Does it work to increase muscle mass?


One of the questions is whether turkesterone increases testosterone. It is one of the main hormones involved in muscle development, as well as being related to sexual performance in men.


It must be assumed that muscle mass is not increased by having higher levels within physiological ranges. The increase in muscle mass is often derived from the use of anabolic steroids. 


But many experts only recommend testosterone supplements if recovery after training or sexual appetite is not adequate, because it may be a result of a low testosterone level.


Apart from the above, there are no significant studies on the power of turkesterone, but there are significant studies on the power of ecdysteroids. We review the results of some of them.


We will start a 2006 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition on ecdysteroids. The purpose was to find out whether methoxyflavone (M), 20-hydroxyecdysone (E), and sulfo polysaccharides (CSP3) are effective in increasing strength and muscle mass during endurance training.


Even back then, the marketing of supplementation was already selling the benefits of these compounds to meet the stated objectives. However, the study showed that supplementation including these compounds does not significantly affect body composition or training adaptations.


Nor does it influence anabolic/catabolic response or overall catabolic scores in endurance training in men.


Studies indicating its effectiveness


The scientific literature on the subject has conflicting results. A more recent study to the one already mentioned, from 2021, points in another direction.


In its case, significant increases in muscle mass were observed in treated patients who followed treatment with 20-hydroxyecdysone. This increase was remarkable in training sessions that included bench press exercises.


The study strongly suggested the inclusion of ecdysterone (from the same group to which turkesterone belongs) in the list of substances and methods prohibited in sports in the chapter on other anabolic agents.


Immunomodulator and antioxidant


Apart from the above, there is in vitro evidence that turkesterone has effects on certain types of blood cells, such as lymphocytes and neutrophils. It may act as an immunomodulator and antioxidant on lipid peroxidation.


Immunomodulators are substances with the ability to increase or decrease the immune response. They are used as adjuvant therapy in immunodeficiency diseases, among others, especially in patients presenting resistance to antibiotic agents and receiving chemotherapy.


Inducer in transgenic animals


Turkesterone, like other ecdysteroids, is used in biochemical research as an inducer in transgenic animals. Inducers are molecules that regulate gene expression, and in transgenic animals, it ensures that a new gene remains under the control of ecdysone.


Thus, adding or removing ecdysteroids from the diet of the transgenic animal will either activate or deactivate the inserted gene.


Benefits of using ecdysteroid supplements


Since the scientific findings are contradictory, the issue should be studied further to make categorical statements. So far, the positive effects attributed to ecdysterone supplements are as follows:


  • It promotes muscle mass gain

  • Increases endurance

  • Stimulates metabolism

  • Improves nerve function

  • Decreases blood sugar levels

  • Reduces adipose tissue


How to use Turkesterone: recommended dosage


The recommended dosage of turkesterone depends on factors such as the user's age, health status, or possible medical conditions. There is no conclusive information on what dosage range is appropriate, so it is best to follow the instructions available on product labels and consult a doctor or pharmacist before starting treatment.


The 2006 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition studied the effect on users who took 30 mg daily orally. We have already said, however, that it did not significantly affect anabolic or catabolic responses in resistance training.


Turkesterone vs. Ecdysterone


Turkesterone and ecdysterone (20-hydroxyecdysone) belong to the family of compounds known as ecdysteroids, anabolic compounds present in plants, arthropods, and certain types of fungi involved in metamorphosis and other vital functions.


Both compounds promise a decisive intervention in muscle building, fat loss, and athletic performance, but more data are needed to elucidate their role in the human body.


As for the effectiveness of both, according to Advanced Molecular Labs studies with turkesterone have only obtained significant results in animals, which cannot be translated to 1:1 doses in healthy humans taking it orally. In addition, commercially available supplements have a very low amount of actual turkesterone, i.e. the active ingredient extracted from ajuga turkestanica.


Ecdysterone, on the other hand, has been studied in healthy humans, and studies have shown it to be effective and safe when administered orally and used in combination with resistance exercise. 


In short, turkesterone is an ecdysteroid to which benefits such as muscle mass gain are attributed. Confirming its reliability requires more scientific studies, but other compounds of the family, such as ecdysterone, seem to have more support.